MR association ESOMAR has launched a guide to help researchers comply with the recently introduced EU cookie law relating to the capture of online visitor information.
Known as the e-Privacy Directive, the legislation requires any organisation operating its own web site, or which accesses information already stored on a user’s equipment, to obtain consent from European users.
Through its new ‘Practical Guide on Cookies’, ESOMAR explains how online research and online panel companies in particular should act to comply with the law. However, the association says that all research organisations, whether in the public, non-profit or private sectors, should take steps to conduct an audit to find out which cookies they use, or face the prospect of heavy fines.
The guide has been developed to help companies get started with their cookie audit, understand the need to clearly inform users about cookies before placing them or accessing information on cookies already placed, and understand how to determine which country’s law applies. In addition, it outlines how to begin contacting national regulators to find about specific national consent requirements in all countries where the research is conducted.
National laws implementing the EU law differ slightly in every country, and in four EU countries - Belgium, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia - the law is still being finalised. ESOMAR stresses that the guide can therefore not be seen as a complete compliance solution.
Advice is included on whether research cookies can qualify for exceptions to the law. For example, for requested services such as panel members, no separate consent is required to set cookies every time they are presented with a survey.
The guide was produced by members of ESOMAR’s Legal Committee, including lead author René Lamsfuß (pictured), who is VP of Market Governance & Data Strategy Europe at Nielsen.
The guide is online at www.esomar.org/uploads/public/knowledge-and-standards/codes-and-guidelines/ESOMAR-Practical-Guide-on-Cookies_July-2012.pdf